Paris prosecutors on Wednesday ordered John Galliano to stand trial over alleged racial insults — a development welcomed by the famous fashion designer’s attorney, who said his client has been the victim of a “veritable lynching” in the court of public opinion.
The trial could take place between next month and June, and Galliano could face up to six months in prison and 22,500 euros (US$31,000) in fines if convicted, the prosecutors office said in a statement.
Capping a five-day whirlwind of scandal around the designer, the prosecutors said he would face allegations of “public insults based on the origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity” against three people.
The news came shortly after the talented 50-year-old designer apologized for his behavior after top-tier house Christian Dior sacked him as creative director over anti-Semitic remarks.
Video of an inebriated Galliano praising Hitler and the subsequent firing of one of the industry’s most talented and moneymaking designers have sent shock waves through Paris Fashion Week, which began on Tuesday.
Galliano’s French lawyer, Stephane Zerbib, said the trial would be an opportunity to get to the bottom of the case “under much calmer conditions.”
“Over the past four days, Mr Galliano has been the object of a veritable lynching,” Zerbib said on a panel on Canal Plus TV.
Galliano broke his silence on the issue on Wednesday.
“Anti-Semitism and racism have no part in our society. I unreservedly apologize for my behavior in causing any offense,” he said in a statement via his British lawyers.
Galliano also said he was “seeking help” for his personal failures, without elaborating.
At fashion week, a spokesperson for the John Galliano clothing line declined to comment when asked if the designer was in rehab.
Galliano’s downfall began on Thursday last week when he was detained in a drunken state and questioned about accusations that he hurled anti-Semitic insults at a couple in a Parisian cafe. Another complaint about a different incident followed.
Then a video of yet another incident surfaced on Monday in which Galliano said: “I love Hitler,” prompting Dior to fire its star designer after 14 years with the company.
In the statement, Galliano said: “I completely deny the claims made against me and have fully cooperated with the police investigation” into the initial cafe case.
However, he said he fully accepts “that the accusations made against me have greatly shocked and upset people.”
“I only have myself to blame and I know that I must face up to my own failures,” he said. “In all my work my inspiration has been to unite people of every race, creed, religion and sexuality by celebrating their cultural and ethnic diversity through fashion.
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